The majority of Jersey City Council abstained on a measure that would’ve repealed a June 13 ordinance to relocate the Katyn Monument, meaning that voters will ultimately decide the monument’s fate.
Last night featured the latest installment in the ongoing saga between city officials and Polish-American activists regarding where the statue that commemorates the slaughter of Polish soldiers during World War II will ultimately reside.
Back in June, the council had voted to authorize the relocation of the Katyn Monument from Exchange Place to York Street.
However, strong and boisterous opposition from Polish-American activists and a committee culminated in a petition of nearly 7,000 signatures over the summer to at least temporarily halt the relocation.
The successful petition drive is why another vote on the monument appeared before the council yesterday.
Council members Michael Yun and Richard Boggiano have been the two most vocal council members to say that the statue should remain at Exchange Place, introducing two ordinances to repeal the June 13 vote and keep the statue at Exchange Place permanently.
However, it wasn’t meant to be, although Ward E Councilman James Solomon voted in the affirmative, his colleagues Rolando Lavarro, Joyce Watterman, Daniel Rivera, Denise Ridley and Mira Prinz-Arey abstained (Ward F Councilman Jermaine Robinson was absent).
As a result, voters will have a special election before the end of the year, with November 1st being the earliest possible date, with the Katyn Memorial referendum being the lone ballot question.
While most council members who abstained did not provide an explanation, Lavarro stated that the only way to bring closure to this hot-button issue is to let the voters decide.
“If the ordinance was repealed there could still be further actions taken on the part of the administration and the Exchange Place Alliance which would lead to litigation, which would lead to costs for the city related to that,” he explained.
“The referendum does provide closure in the sense that there will be a final decision at the end of the referendum and the public will have every opportunity to weigh in on it at that point.”
During the public speaking portion of the meeting, Kristin Zadroga-Hart, a member of the committee that spearheaded the petition drive, expressed frustration over the council’s vote, saying the city is needlessly incurring costs related to a referendum.
“Since this measure failed it will bring about a needless and costly special election held sometime, possibly in the middle of December, costing the taxpayers at least $250,000. The complete cost of this election is on your shoulders,” she said.